Monday, May 31, 2021

Memorial Day


The first Memorial Day or Decoration Day was apparently held in Charleston by freed men and women of color, May 1865, when they went to "decorate" the mass graves of mostly white Union soldiers dead in the local POW camps in love and respect. Via Damario Solomon-Simmons.

I posted this picture a while back, in June 2015, but it seems especially relevant today, when the Memorial Day commemoration feels so overwhelmed by the centenary of the Tulsa massacre of 1921 unless they're brought together like this:

Or in the idea of Nikole Hannah-Jones's father, who enlisted in the Army in 1962, and as a grown man and householder always flew the American flag in his front yard:

Sunday, May 30, 2021

For the Record: The Lab Leak Theory


Wait, Andromeda strain was a coronavirus? Why weren't we informed?!

That's really about the size of it:

Yes, if we never figure out the truth of Covid’s origins, the dangers of media groupthink will be the only lesson we can draw for absolutely certain. But if we could find out the truth, and it turned out that the Wuhan Institute of Virology really was the epicenter of a once-in-a-century pandemic, the revelation would itself be a major political and scientific event.

Friday, May 28, 2021

For the Record: Gaetz's Rebellion


Scuffle outside the Springfield, Massachusetts courthouse, 1786; 19th-century wood engraving, Granger Academic.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Joe Did What? Budget edition


So the thing Biden is releasing tomorrow is the White House budget proposal for fiscal 2022, with projections out to 2031 (don't forget that it's only a statement of what the president would like Congress to do, and what they actually do will certainly be different in small or big ways), and Jim Tankersley/NYTimes got enough of an advance look at it to give us a preview.

The most "Joe Did What?" bit for me is that in addition to lowering the Medicare qualification age to 60 and allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, both sort of predicted, he recommends adding dental, vision, and hearing care to the Medicare list of services, an obviously great and needed item that has long been on the Sanders agenda but I think never taken seriously by a president before (though there's no cost estimate and it's not part of the budget proper, like our beloved ACA public option, which is apparently recommended in the same way). But the thing that's really interesting me is the picture it provides of not just how big this New Deal–sized program is but how it's timed, not just the spending but also the funding, through borrowing and progressive taxation. Tankersley didn't mention the last in his tease tweet—

Zek Your Privilege

Gulag prisoners, via.They didn't suffer in vain! They suffered so that David Frum could feel good about himself!

John Holbo
 (2003) on David Frum (1994):

... if it is good for the poor and middle-class to suffer and toil, surely it would do the well-to-do some good as well. We could stiffen upper-classes spines quick by raising the top tax bracket to, say, 95%, while firing all the cops, letting all the criminals out of jail, giving them guns, and busing them to the richest neighborhoods before letting them go. Not a good idea, obviously, but a lot of rich people would learn a lot of important, genuinely meaningful life lessons..

It's from a rant (via Brad DeLong's substack) on Frum's book, Dead Right, in the phase of his life when he was an ordinary Canadian opinionator/thinktank twit, before his bizarre irruption into "public service" as a Bush speechwriter, on the subject of how Frum can't possibly believe the things he believes he believes, as a representative conservative, like the way the Dostoevskian idea of how we can be ennobled by suffering, like the cannibal heroes of the Donner Party or the zeks of the Stalin-era gulag, gets transmuted into the idea that the function of the state is to ennoble people by making welfare payments too small for people to live on.

Frum can't possibly believe that that Stalinism is good, right? Because it's responsible for the ennoblement of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and his fellow political prisoners? But when Frum wishes liberal government would be more austere because that would be morally good for the beneficiaries

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Not Quite a Smoking Gun

Breville Pro Smoking Gun.

William Barr got his copy of the Mueller Report on Friday, 22 March 2019, about five weeks after he assumed the attorney generalship of the United States. That Sunday he sent Congress his four-page letter describing his views on what the 448 pages said, which was not as he later explained a "summary" of it, just a statement of its "principal conclusions", including two main failures to draw conclusions: on the subject of Russian active measures in the 2016 election it

did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election

and on the subject of actions by the president, Mueller had

considered whether to evaluate the conduct under Department standards governing prosecution and declination decisions but ultimately determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment.

Neither one of which was exactly true, as, one thinks, he might have found out if he had had time to read the thing. He did, however, with the assistance of Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, come to his own opinion, 

that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel's investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense. Our determination was made without regard to, and is not based on, the constitutional considerations that surround the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting president.

And on the same Sunday, 24 March, two Justice Department lawyers drafted a memo summarizing the advice they had given Barr in reaching this decision, to which Barr was evidently referring when he told Congress when he gave them the report itself on 18 April, that

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Three-Dimensional Chess Is Good Enough For Me

11-dimensional chess is fun to think about, but 3-dimensional chess actually exists. Star Trek–compliant set via eBay from WorthPoint.

Funny thing happened when I heard how the Biden administration offered a compromise infrastructure package for Republican consideration yesterday, cutting about $550 billion from the original $2.25 trillion price tag, after Republicans failed to meet a Tuesday deadline to offer their own counterproposal—or rather didn't happen: no howls of protest from those who fear Biden's appeals to "bipartisanship" are a Clintonian effort to chop down his own program. Perhaps because Republicans rejected it so swiftly most of us didn't even notice it flying by.

I'm here to tell you the administration wasn't expecting anything different. The proposal didn't give in on any principle, for one thing: it suggested reducing spending on traditional bridge-and-highway infrastructure, the stuff the GOP professes to like, and broadband access, to levels more like the ones the Republicans had suggested, and shifted some of the less traditional proposals (on R&D and manufacturing, backing "homeshoring" of industry and competition with China) to other bills making their own way through the process, but it didn't give any concession to McConnell's demands on the semantics of the word "infrastructure", and it didn't give an inch on the tax issue:

Friday, May 21, 2021

Joe Did What? Access Journalism

Andrea Pozzo, anamorphic ceiling fresco in the Church of Sant'Ignazio (1690), Campus Martius, Rome, photo by Anthony Majanlahti, 2005.

Weird spectacle in Politico in a lengthy piece by Laura Barrón-López: a bunch of old more or less rightwing Democratic retired senators, Ben Nelson, Kent Conrad, Bob Kerrey, coming out to say that Biden seems to have become a completely different political thinker since he was in the Senate himself, but they're mostly pretty OK with that:

Current and former Democratic lawmakers who’ve known Biden through the years describe his current spending initiatives as an evolution. But none see his presidential agenda — cast in the face of the historic pandemic — as a misstep or simply the result of liberal pressure. Conrad, a self-described conservative Democrat, said Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan was “not out of the Biden playbook of the past.” But he said that he’d support it if he were still in the Senate today.

What's that about? I mean, not why is Kent Conrad thinking that way, though that's an interesting question, but why is a story about him expressing a positive view of Biden popping up in Politico? Do you suppose it's possible Democrats could be learning how to use Politico-style access journalism?

Because this story is putting out a kind of specific narrative with a kind of specific purpose—

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Retired Emperor Has Complaints


"The antipope of Mar-a-Lago": illustration by Jason Seiler for Politico. Can't really tell from the setting whether he's meant to be one of the historical antipopes or the Holy Father of Sherwood Forest, Pope Tuck I, but whatevs.

Retired emperor seems to be upset about something, at great length, on his antisocial medium website:

I have just learned, through leaks in the mainstream media, that after being under investigation from the time I came down the escalator 5 ½ years ago, including the fake Russia Russia Russia Hoax, the 2 year, $48M, No Collusion Mueller Witch Hunt, Impeachment Hoax #1, Impeachment Hoax #2, and others, that the Democrat New York Attorney General has “informed” my organization that their “investigation” is no longer just a civil matter but also potentially a “criminal” investigation working with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

AG James "informed" his organization but he learned about it through media leaks? Why didn't his organization tell him? Or are the scare quotes supposed to suggest that they didn't really inform his organization at all, and it's not really an "investigation", and "criminal" is an exaggeration of some kind? Or is the author just signaling subtly that we're dealing with an unreliable narrator here?

The Attorney General of New York literally campaigned on prosecuting Donald Trump even before she knew anything about me. She said that if elected, she would use her office to look into “every aspect” of my real estate dealings. She swore that she would “definitely sue” me. She boasted on video that she would be, and I quote, “a real pain in the ass.” She declared, “just wait until I’m in the Attorney General’s office,” and, ”I’ve got my eyes on Trump Tower.” She also promised that, if elected, she would “join with law enforcement and other Attorney Generals across this nation in removing this President from office,” and, “It’s important that everyone understand that the days of Donald Trump are coming to an end.”

Letitia James knew a good deal about Donald Trump by the time she was campaigning for attorney general in 2018, as indicated by the formal promises included in her campaign website, to

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Florida man: "How quickly can I blow it all on pussy?"

The Third Man. If you know what I mean.

Headline from the former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, not his former friend Matt Gaetz, who probably might not express himself so coarsely

I have this idea Gaetz will get away with it—been looking at the plea agreement for Joel Greenberg and seeing plenty of opportunities for Gaetz to call himself Greenberg's victim instead of a partner in crime, and don't doubt he's dishonest and disloyal enough to take full advantage of them.

His name isn't mentioned anywhere in the document, but it's clear he's involved in just two of the six crimes to which Greenberg has pleaded guilty (out of I think 33 total charges in the original indictments: the sex trafficking involving a minor, in which he bonked some of the young women Greenberg was in the habit of sourcing through the Sugar Babies app in return for money he paid Greenberg with Venmo and Greenberg in turn paid them, sometimes asking them to take MDMA with him (and paying them extra when they did); and the use of fake IDs Greenberg manufactured in his tax collector's office, which in Gaetz's case seems to have been sort of legitimate, in that he wanted ID for his real self rather than the stolen identities Greenberg created out of abandoned driver's licenses for his own use and that of the girls:

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Boots in the Mosque

Sheikh Jarrah from the air, 1931. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection, Library of Congress, via Wikipedia.

How the crisis started, as reported in The Times yesterday:

JERUSALEM — Twenty-seven days before the first rocket was fired from Gaza this week, a squad of Israeli police officers entered the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, brushed the Palestinian attendants aside and strode across its vast limestone courtyard. Then they cut the cables to the loudspeakers that broadcast prayers to the faithful from four medieval minarets.

It was the night of April 13, the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. It was also Memorial Day in Israel, which honors those who died fighting for the country. The Israeli president was delivering a speech at the Western Wall, a sacred Jewish site that lies below the mosque, and Israeli officials were concerned that the prayers would drown it out.

I found myself wondering about a detail: when you enter a mosque, you take off your shoes first, leaving them in a crowd of shoes around the entrance, or for the more fastidious putting them in a bag to carry with you. Were the cops really unlacing their high-top boots and pulling them off before pushing inside, or were they just marching in, profaning the place?

Dr. Google couldn't find any cases of Israeli police explicitly reported entering al-Aqsa with their boots on a specific occasion more recent than 16 January 2020, but they seem to have been doing it over the nights of really violent raids on the mosque last week, starting on the last Friday of Ramadan, when

Literary Corner: Soci(opathic)al Media

Trump plastic drinking straws, 10-pack for $15 from Save America Shop.


Let's Stay Home

by Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States of America

The polls were a joke. I won States
in a landslide that I was predicted to lose
days before the election. Other states
had me purposely so far down
that it would force people, even fans,
to say “Let's stay home Darling. We love
our President, but he can’t win.”

The Former Guy's "social media" site, Save 🇺🇸, is turning out so far to be more antisocial, in that he is the only one who is allowed to participate other than by purchasing the merch from the Save America Shop or just sending money, which is, as we know from Buckley v. Valeo, speech, but that isn't the speech that the audience gets to witness, which is literally nothing bu an uninterrupted sequence of tweetoid productions all with the same headline— 

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Not With a Pang But a Simper

Update: The original version version of this post was deleted by Blogger during a long moment of weirdness at the platform, after a complaint, they said at various points, that it might contain a virus or malware,. or represented a phishing attack. So I posted this version, eliminating a couple of hyperlinks I thought might be the problem, if there actually was a problem, which there apparently wasn't, since they have now reinstated it, or rather allowed me to reinstate it. 

 Both versions have attracted great comments, so I'm leaving both of them up.


Recently I took a friend with no more than a University of Chicago history B.A. and a seven-figure salary writing 800 words a week for the middlebrow New York Times to listen to some intellectual talk. Insensitively, I brought him to a conference at Bryn Mawr College, where students are well-steeped in doctrines of intersectionality, "white fragility", anti-racism, and all the rest. Suddenly, I saw his face grow dark and panicky as he looked at the schedule and its unfamiliar words like "heteronormativity", "cisgender", and "patriarchal". Quickly, I asked him if he wanted to go somewhere else and with a fearful gesture he assented and we went instead to the local Y, where we listened to a nice talk about five ideas from social psychology that can help you turn your life around.

Yes, it's David F. Brooks acknowledging that maybe  his conservative friends ought to lighten up a little bit on the wokeness threat ("How Wokeness Ends"), in the first place because it's a case of the curate's egg, good in parts:

Friday, May 14, 2021

Wokeness Gets Weirder

Recently I took a friend with no more than a University of Chicago history B.A. and a seven-figure salary writing 800 words a week for the middlebrow New York Times to listen to some intellectual talk. Insensitively, I brought him to a conference at Bryn Mawr College, where students are well-steeped in doctrines of intersectionality, "white fragility", anti-racism, and all the rest. Suddenly, I saw his face grow dark and panicky as he looked at the schedule and its unfamiliar words like "heteronormativity", "cisgender", and "patriarchal". Quickly, I asked him if he wanted to go somewhere else and with a fearful gesture he assented and we went instead to the local Y, where we listened to a nice talk about five ideas from social psychology that can help you turn your life around.

Yes, it's David F. Brooks acknowledging that maybe  his conservative friends ought to lighten up a little bit on the wokeness threat ("How Wokeness Ends"), in the first place because it's a case of the curate's egg, good in parts:

Wokeness Gets Weirder

Recently I took a friend with no more than a University of Chicago history B.A. and a seven-figure salary writing 800 words a week for the middlebrow New York Times to listen to some intellectual talk. Insensitively, I brought him to a conference at Bryn Mawr College, where students are well-steeped in doctrines of intersectionality, "white fragility", anti-racism, and all the rest. Suddenly, I saw his face grow dark and panicky as he looked at the schedule and its unfamiliar words like "heteronormativity", "cisgender", and "patriarchal". Quickly, I asked him if he wanted to go somewhere else and with a fearful gesture he assented and we went instead to the local Y, where we listened to a nice talk about five ideas from social psychology that can help you turn your life around.

Yes, it's David F. Brooks acknowledging that maybe  his conservative friends ought to lighten up a little bit on the wokeness threat ("How Wokeness Ends"), in the first place because it's a case of the curate's egg, good in parts:

Thursday, May 13, 2021



Via Theories of Media and Communication/University of Westminster.

This is really interesting, from a Rectification standpoint, on North Carolina's ban of "critical race theory" in the schools, from State Senator Jeff Jackson (D-Mecklenburg County, and running to replace retiring US Senator Richard Burr, with a good chance of winning, and you might want to show him some love):

That's not just a self-own, it's a new word, or at least a new meaning for "decodify", which used to just be a four-syllable way of saying "decode", though it can also be for removing a provision from the law (as in being the secretary whose job is to pull some language out of the code after the legislature has repealed it, which isn't sinister), or doing it without the legislature (which is kind of sinister), as in this dire, but possibly accurate, prediction from Sarah Kendzior, October 2020:

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Literary Corner: Holy Fool

The holy fool Private Kozma Prutkov, creation of the 19th-century novelist and satirist Aleksei Tolstoy, in a drawing by M. Dormer (Nature, June 2000). Asked which was more important, the sun or the moon, he replied, "The moon, of course! It shines at night, when we need the light, while the sun only shines in the daytime!" (Probably stolen by the Russians from the Muslim folk hero Mullah Nasreddin.)


The Moon's Orbit Is Apparently Changing Some

by Louis Buller Gohmert, Jr.

Yeah, well, we can't
do anything substantive
about the climate change
right now,
when the moon's orbit
is apparently changing some,
the earth's orbit is changing some,
according to NASA.
But we can do something
about people that will continue
to die getting across
our border.

Elle ne regrette rien

I got stuck in irritation at Jonathan Chait and his complaints last week ("Elizabeth Warren’s Book Shows She Has No Idea Why Her Campaign Failed") about Elizabeth Warren's memoir, Persist, which fails to be the book he wants to read, which will explain the thing he feels he already knows, which is that "progressive" Democrats in 2020 were so "disoriented" by the way the 2016 election had overturned all their assumptions about "electability" that they found themselves inside a "bubble" of believing the assumptions weren't true: 

Persist, Elizabeth Warren’s new memoir of her life and presidential campaign, is an excellent and informative account of how that bubble  formed. Her campaign was perhaps a prime case study in the delirious post-2016 atmosphere and the errors in political judgment it produced.

The problem is that she is so deep inside that bubble she seems not to recognize it for what it was. She can paint a compelling portrait of what the inside of the Democratic Party activist bubble looked like, but shows no awareness that there is anything outside of the bubble, or even that she was inside of one.

Excuse me, sir, this is an Arby's. Or, less metaphorically, a traditional inspirational text about the importance of persistence, and anything but a political operative's autopsy of a failed campaign. It opens not with the sorrow of her quitting the presidential campaign in March 2020 but the exhilaration of watching Biden and Harris winning in November, and eager anticipation of the hard work that must come next, and she remarks,

Monday, May 10, 2021

Conservatives Against Capitalism

Casting a vote for Chancellor Hitler's party, which took pretty good care of you if you were a member of the right group. Photo via Quartz, 2017.

Monsignor Ross Douthat, Apostolic Nuncio to 42nd Street, has a pretty oddly structured argument ("Is Capitalism Killing Conservatism?"), starting, in the first place, with the "grim" news of the falling birthrate in the US.

paragraph 1:

The report on Wednesday that U.S. birthrates fell to a record low in 2020 was expected but still grim. On Twitter the news was greeted, characteristically, by conservative laments and liberal comments implying that it’s mostly conservatism’s fault — because American capitalism allegedly makes parenthood unaffordable, work-life balance impossible and atomization inevitable.

Without saying exactly what's grim about it, though you can assume he's one of the characteristically lamenting conservatives. And reading into the comments of liberals something more than they (actually, she—there's only one of them) actually said:

What makes him think Vega is decrying "conservatism"?  Other than his own tacit assumption, you know, that that is where American capitalism comes from? And what does he mean by "atomization"? 

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Maybe she's just smarter than Kevin

Illustration by hotlittlepotato via Wired.

An interesting claim in this WaPo story: Liz Cheney seems to think there is evidence she has the politics right, and party management seems to be trying to hide the evidence from members:

When staff from the National Republican Congressional Committee [at an April retreat] rose to explain the party’s latest polling in core battleground districts, they left out a key finding about Trump’s weakness, declining to divulge the information even when directly questioned about Trump’s support by a member of Congress, according to two people familiar with what transpired.

Trump’s unfavorable ratings were 15 points higher than his favorable ones in the core districts, according to the full polling results, which were later obtained by The Washington Post. Nearly twice as many voters had a strongly unfavorable view of the former president as had a strongly favorable one.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Distrust Doom Loop

Doom Loop: Richmond Mural Project 2014, by Onur and Wes21, photo by Brandon Bartoszek, 2019.

Breaking: On further consideration, Brooks ("Our Pathetic Herd Immunity Failure") thinks the New Deal may have been OK:

The New Deal was an act of social solidarity that created the national cohesion we needed to win World War II. I am not in the habit of supporting massive federal spending proposals. But in this specific context — in the midst of a distrust doom loop — this is our best shot of reversing the decline.

Not, to be sure, because it rescued millions of Americans from hunger, homelessness, and despair, but because it created "cohesion". Which prepared us for the Second World War. And probably would have prepared us for the Covid-19 pandemic too, if we'd only had a good Great Depression beforehand for an excuse. You don't want a New Deal every day, because that's awfully expensive, but it's just the thing to get you out of a Distrust Doom Loop  (the phrase sounds like Tom Friedman having a panic attack, but is Brooks's own, premiered in an article in The Atlantic last October).

Maybe if Trump had offered people a little New Deal in 2019, he'd have saved us from the Distrust Doom Loop of 2020.

And if something had given David Brooks more of a social cohesion feeling he would have handled it better himself, almost exactly a year ago, as our friend reminds us:

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Literary Corner: The Committed Woke

In memory of the great Merle Haggard, who may not have smoked marijuana in Muskogee, but certainly did in every other town on the circuit:

We don't get up early in Biloxi
We don't set our radio alarms
We don't ever wear a mask on Main Street
Or brag on vaccinations in our arms

We don't go for wokie in Muskogee
Or Tupelo or old Sault Saint-Marie
We don't buzz on coffee in Kentucky
Cause dead asleep is where we want to be

I"m proud to be unwoke in Oklahoma
I'm proud to be asleep in Tennessee
I"m proud to linger in my bed in Texas
Cause I love livin right and sleepin free

We don't allow no racism in Tulsa
We drove it out a hundred years ago
We had to drive our black folks all out with it
But nothing in this life comes free, you know

We don't take to critical race theory
We like lettin well enough alone
Criticize your forebears if you want to
I"ll be here just sleepin like a stone

I"m proud to be unwoke in Oklahoma
I'm proud to be asleep in Tennessee
I"m proud to linger in my bed in Texas
Cause I love livin right and sleepin free

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Another Steele Dossier?

Updated 5 May

This is kind of interesting, reported in England by The Telegraph (paywall) and picked up by the Sydney Morning Herald: It seems Christopher Steele compiled a second dossier on Donald Trump, this one directly for the FBI, after Trump took office:

The second dossier contains raw intelligence that makes further claims of Russian meddling in the US election and also references claims regarding the existence of further sex tapes. The second dossier is reliant on separate sources to those who supplied information for the first reports.

The fact the FBI continued to receive intelligence from Steele, who ran MI6’s Russia desk from 2006 to 2009 before setting up Orbis, is potentially significant because it shows his work was apparently still being taken seriously after Trump took hold of the reins of power.

It was, was it? We'd been given to believe FBI broke off relations with Steele in November 2016, after David Corn revealed the existence of the original dossier in a Halloween article in Mother Jones—not that at that point that they didn't trust his research, but that they couldn't trust him to stay away from the press, which is understandable (I can also understand Steele's point of view, that the FBI didn't seem to be doing anything with the material he'd showed them, even as they publicly reopened an obviously bogus investigation into Hillary Clinton, and someone who appeared to be a tool of the Russian government was dangerously close to getting elected president of the United States, and he and Glenn Simpson felt morally obliged to do something).

But it's not exactly true that the FBI broke off with Steele. DOJ's Bruce Ohr kept talking to Steele, and the FBI was aware, and opinions on it in the Bureau differed:

Monday, May 3, 2021

Joe did what? He didn't—yet.



Republican Chuck Hagel and Democrat Joe Lieberman in 2008, when they were both being considered for cross-the-aisle vice presidential candidacies. Remember who won the vice presidency? Via Politico.

Really interesting tidbit from Anita Kumar/Politico, passing on what look to me like some pretty carefully orchestrated hints from the White House as to what's likely to happen to the Biden agenda this summer, after he's finished with the essential task of looking hopeful for Republican cooperation:

But Biden aides also are hinting that there are time limits to how long that engagement will last. They say the president hopes to make progress on both spending bills — either as a pair or individually — by Memorial Day and sign them into law this summer. And the calendar creates some urgency: By the end of his first year, members of Congress will be consumed by the midterms and then the next presidential race. The White House also knows how a drag-on legislative process can consume a presidency and party.

“Biden and the people around him understand you have to get as much done this year as possible,” said Republican Chuck Hagel, who served with Biden in the Senate and later served as Defense secretary in the Obama administration. “At what point then — if you’re not making any progress on any front and you've been willing to compromise on some things — do you have to go it alone. That’s a decision they’re going to have to make. You don’t have a lot of time.”

Unparliamentary Language


Erskine May, 1st Baron Farnborough, KCB, Under Clerk of the Parliaments from 1871 to 1886. Via Wikipedia.

Lovely buried lede in this Guardian story about Prime Minister Boris Johnson's inveterate lying, which is becoming increasingly hard for Britain to live with:

On Tuesday an exasperated cross-party group of MPs went to see [Speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay] Hoyle. Their message: the parliamentary protocols drawn up in Victorian times no longer work. “We need new rules for this Trumpian era of British politics,” Green MP Caroline Lucas told the Radio 4 Today programme. The MPs want to be able to call him out – and the charge sheet against him is long.

Under the ministerial code, an MP who makes a false statement to the Commons is supposed to correct the record. Johnson has repeatedly ignored this obligation, making a litany of inaccurate claims which he subsequently fails to fix. Seemingly, Erskine May, the sideburned baron who established parliamentary procedure, did not envisage a PM like Johnson.

Basically, they're asking permission to use unparliamentary language and call Johnson a liar, preferably to his face at Question Time.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

All Power to the Oppressed Parents!

Children in New York City's universal pre-K program, abandoned by their selfish millionaire moms who'd rather be at a power lunch with their law partners. David Brooks begs, don't let this happen to the rest of America! Via Day Care Council of New York.

Shorter David F. Brooks ("Power to the Parents!", New York Times 30 April 2021)"

We must allow parents to make their own decisions on building their families! I mean unless they make the wrong decisions, obviously we need to keep an eye on that.

This is such a great example of a particular manner of Republican argumentation, addressed to Biden's American Families Plan and its cruel and insidious attempt to force our nation's 3- and 4-year-olds into quality pre-kindergarten programs against their parents' desires.

That is—he begins with praise for the expanded child tax credit program of the American Rescue (to be extended out to 2025 under American Families), which gives parents $300 per month (for adjusted gross income of $150,000 for a couple filing jointly, less for higher incomes) per child under 5, $250 for kids 6 to 16, for the freedom it allows parents to decide what to do with the money

Joe Did What? Not Deficit Hawkery.


Bathtub boats, via Walmart.

So, as promised earlier in the week, to the Biden program: one reassuring thing we've learned over the pandemic year is that the federal government has a lot of fiscal and financial tools for dealing with an out-of-the-blue emergency. We may not be totally able to rely on the people, in Congress, in the White House, at the Fed, but the tools are really there—we don't need to devise a whole new system, the way the Union did (and the Confederacy failed to do) at the outset of the Civil War. The Federal Reserve Bank can keep interest rates near zero for years at a time, it seems, and Treasury can borrow more or less unlimited funds to deal with it, if Congress allows them to. And indeed, they've borrowed $4.3 trillion for Covid relief since March 2020, the last $1.9-trillion tranche signed by President Joe Biden, in a bill passed without a single Republican vote.

Which is a sign that Democrats may not be simply reverting "back to the days of paygo politics," as David Dayen complains, when they propose they propose some $4 trillion in tax hikes, all of it on the top 0.3% earners and on corporations, to "pay for" the planned new spending of the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan:

“So, how do we pay for my Jobs and Family Plan?  I made it clear, we can do it without increasing the deficits,” Biden said last night. “What I propose is fair, fiscally responsible, and it raises revenue to pay for the plans I have proposed.” This was in a section where Biden attacked trickle-down economics, but even there, he condemned Trump for adding “$2 trillion to the deficit” with his tax cuts.